Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogging a New Play

I'm writing a new play and I want to share it with you as I write it. Over the next few months, I'm going to post a new scene to this blog about every week.  I will post the scenes as I write them; as finished and polished as I can. In this way, the play will build episodically.  Once a scene is published on the blog, I'll consider it set in stone.  No rewrites, no take backs.  If I set something up on Act 1, Scene 2, then I can't ignore it in Act 3, Scene 5.  I'm going into this with only a very loose outline, only the broadest strokes of character sketches, and worse... only a hint of story.

But it's exciting!  A new project with open possibilities!
  
I think it's fair to say that I haven't written a full length play in a while.  I've started a few and I've written a few one act plays, but it's been a while since I've had the inspiration to put together a project like this.  Most of the pieces I've written lately have evolved from a prompt given to me.  But there are these other, untouched and untried, stories in my mind.  Some are from or inspired by the people and events in my life and some are stories I have a yearning to tell.  It's like an itch that needs scratching.

And for better or worse, I'm going to make you all witnesses.  And, if I'm very lucky, some of it might even be entertaining.

But why bother? I think it's good to shake it up sometimes.  I want to create without the pressure of submissions or production.  I want a focus and an outlet for my creativity, but I want to try a new way of creating. One of my favorite playwrights and teachers, Brian Thorstenson (who you can and should check out here http://www.brianthorstenson.com), emphasized in his classes that the best way to challenge yourself creatively and to teach yourself new solutions to old problems is to put new obstacles in your path.   

While this will be a new experiment for me, I don't feel there is anything particularly new or exceptional in the method.  It's not all that far from television writing.  Novels used to be published as serials; in some cases, one chapter would be published before the next was finished.  And in our Web 2.0 world, playwrights are experimenting with a variety of creation methods.

Just this past September, Neil LaBute and Theresa Rebeck wrote a play by live chat for the LA Times. You can read the full chat here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/09/neil-labute-and-theresa-rebeck-live-playwriting.html  Plays have been written by communities of writers via Twitter feed. Not to mention, I'm sure there are any number of playwrights who are doing exactly what I'm doing, though lazy google searches on my part haven't turned them up.  Please feel free to send them my way!  Or, start blogging your own play!

I'm also taking inspiration from blogs by graphic artists, cartoonists, illustrators, and other artists/storytellers who publish their stories, graphic novels, thoughts, and sketches episodically. I highly recommend reading this one: Bad Machinery by John Allison http://scarygoround.com/index.php?date=20090921 

And, finally, I've always been a very big fan of Charles Mee and his (re)making project.  He has been posting his work on his website for years because he believes art is created from and by art.  You can read all the plays he's posted here: http://charlesmee.org

I'm very lucky that a collaborator has agreed to come on board this project with me.  Cody Rishell, a wonderful friend and an artist I truly admire, will be adding an illustration to each post.  He's a wonderful artist and a huge inspiration for me personally.  You can see his art work here: http://www.codyrishell.com/

The play is titled "English for Beginners" and it follows a group of playwrights on a writer's retreat in the Marin Headlands. At this point in the synopsis I would describe the main characters, their wants and intentions, the heroes and the antagonists. But I don't know who any of them are!  But, I'm working on the prologue right now.  And here's what I can tell you about that:

Next time on "English for Beginners" - Julia arrives and is shown around the vacation house by a curt and unkind Mrs. Delany.  Julia has to prepare the house for twelve other writers who will be showing up to spend two weeks writing, working, drinking, and talking. Julia is feeling the pressure to impress, but she's already running late.              

 



   

1 comment:

psgates said...

This sounds like fun